Velocette was a British-based motorcycle company that started to produce motorcycles in the 1920s. This company's legacy lasted over 30 years well into the 1950s, and they were also able to accumulate two different world championship titles in the 350 cc classes.
The company was actually founded back in 1905 when they produced bicycles, then eventually moved into the motorcycle production with their first two-stroke being released in 1913.
Their two-stroke engines continue from 1913, all the way into 1925. These were expensive as well as high-quality motorcycles that ranged usually in the 250 CC categories and had grown a tremendous reputation for excellence and quality. The company's motorcycles have also taken many titles in the Isle of Man TT throughout the years, using their single cylinder two. 50 cc engines as well as 350 cc engines.
In the 1920s, the company realised that it was time to expand and so created an overhead cam 350 cc engine, their K series. This model also became very popular amongst the racing business due to its success in various Isle of Man TT races, as well as Brookland races. This model was a roadster model and the company also produced a super sport, touring sport as well as a twin sport model of their K series motorcycles.
By the 1930s, the company decided it was time to release another model, so they released their M series motorcycle. These engines feature a more simple design, which require less hand assembly and were also a lot cheaper to produce than their K series motorcycles. These engines were an immediate success due to the fact that it could reach speeds in excess of 78 mph. Although by today's standards, this is slow, in 1934, this was record-breaking speeds.
After World War II, Velocette decided that it was time to capture the growing need for personal transportation market, so they produced a 192 CC water-cooled twin to meet the demands for more economical vehicle. This model would become known as there LE model of motorcycles and was considered sophisticated as well looking expensive. Although they expected to be very successful with this model, they were not as successful as they had initially anticipated.
It has been considered by most, that this LE model was what caused the idea of a person on a motorcycle to nod their head rather than to wave their hand. A number of models of this motorcycle line were sold to the local Metropolitan police force. Unfortunately, when a police officer passed one of his superiors, he was required to salute but unfortunately was unable to due to a wobble in the front forks of the motorcycle. This motorcycle gave the Metropolitan police force, the term Noddy's.
The 1950s were successful for the company in various world championships, where they were able to capture multiple 350 cc titles using their LE model of motorcycle. This model was also redesigned in 1954 to feature a dual seat as well as lower the combustion chamber size to 200 cc. It was at this time that their motorcycles started to appear to be more scooter-like than their previous models.
The 1960s saw the company focusing 100% on their scooter lines as opposed to any of their motorcycle models. Their scooters featured a 250 cc, horizontally opposed 2-stroke engine along with an electric start, and an automatic clutch. These scooters were only 15 hp, but they were capable of reaching speeds in excess of 65 mph, while still showing good performance, as well as handling features that could be considered as first-class.
Unfortunately, the growing public did not agree with the motorcycles styling, as the preferences in motorcycles were changing due to the incoming onslaught of the Japanese made street bikes. With both of these combined the Velocette Motorcycle Company was forced to drop all lines and close their doors in 1971.
Original Authors: Nicholas
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 06/06/2008